I had previously written about how you can search on Google from a new tab in Chrome. Back then the feature only worked only if your default search engine in Chrome was Google. Recently, the feature seems to be extended to Microsoft’s Bing search engine too. If your default search engine in Chrome is Bing, you can go ahead and search right from a new tab. Not only, the Bing search box is available, it also comes with “complete integration” i.e. the behavior of the search box is same as you would experience on Bing’s home page with features such as entity information box (as seen in the image) and entity disambiguation integrated into the search box inside of Chrome. In today’s world of walled gardens, it’s welcome to see such steps.
If you have been using the latest version of Google Chrome, a ‘new blank tab’ would greet you with thumbnails of your most visited pages, a large Google search box as well as links to Gmail, Google+ and other Google products.
As my friends received this update on Google Chrome, I was greeted by a ‘new blank tab’ that lacked the large Google search box and the other links.
I kept wondering why the Google Search box was absent in my browser. My friends joked that since I am a ‘Microsoft boy’ (they joke so because I have interned twice at Microsoft) , Google decided not push that part of the update to me. Turns out they were partially correct! The Google Search Box and other links at the top right corner will appear only if your default search engine for Chrome is set to Google. I have been using Bing as my default search engine in Chrome, which led to the absence of the search box in my ‘new blank tab’ in Chrome.
Search Engines have been slowly moving away from the classic ten blue links when they started integrating data from structured knowledge sources. Google uses its Knowledge Graph; whereas Bing uses Satori to enrich search results. However, both in research and industry, such knowledge bases are often built using Wikipedia as its foundation and consist of information related to popular things — people, places, organizations, books, movies, and so on. Companies like Google and Microsoft have expanded scope of their knowledge bases by extracting additional information from documents on the web, adding information about local places — restaurants, grocery stores, shops etc.
But famous personalities and places are not the only things people search for. People often search for real people — friends, professional colleagues, some one you want to know more about ! Such information did not exists in knowledge bases; not until the Bing + LinkedIn integration. Bing has integrated publicly available profiles from LinkedIn into its knowledge base “Satori”, making you an entity too ! Similar to popular persons, searching for my name, now, presents a “knowledge box” at the right hand side highlighting information from my LinkedIn profile. Using data from LinkedIn, it can also suggest other you can search for.
Bing has also enabled “Entity Disambiguation” for its LinkedIn integration. For example, searching for my friend’s name “Sayantan Dey”, Bing disambiguates and suggests possible entities to select from, based on their LinkedIn information. Google also supports entity disambiguation, which works only for popular people. When I first noticed this integration, I found it to be an interesting and useful feature. It was nice to know that I am also an “entity” in some knowledge base ! With LinkedIn integration, Bing has definitely enhanced people search. Going further, Bing can enhance it, if it can link my LinkedIn node to my social networking accounts such as Twitter and Klout. There are already on going research projects like “Finding Nemo” that focus on integrating one’s identity across multiple social networks, which search engines like Bing and Google can leverage to enhance the “LinkedIn node” with information from other social networks.
I noticed that I got fligthed* for a new test UI for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Bing is testing a new taskbar at the bottom of the home-page. The task-bar is sporting your search history, trending searches, images and videos. As you can notice in the screen-shots above, you can expand and close the task-bar. Earlier versions of the taskbar were known to have a weather widget instead of search history which seems to be missing now. I wouldn’t mind getting the weather widget back. The task-bar flight is working in Internet Explorer 9.
* Major tech companies often have “flights” where they release a new feature to a small set of users.
Credit card companies pretty much offer the same basic service. One way in which various credit card providers (banks, financial institutions) compete with each other is via rewards – cash-backs, reward points etc. Given an option between two very similar credit cards, ‘A’ and ‘B’, people are likely to choose ‘B’ say if ‘B’ offered 5% cash-back instead of the 1% cash-back offered by ‘A’. Fair game you would say. Correct ?
Now think of search engines. The two most prominent search engines in the US market, Bing and Google, pretty much provide nearly the same results. Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, claims that 70% of the times users will have equally relevant results on both Bing and Google, 15% of the times Bing will be better and 15% of the times Google will be better. Going by my personal experience I would tend to agree with this statement.
Now how does Bing, being the new player on the block, get more users ? One way Bing does this is via Bing Rewards. Users on Bing, can sign up and earn points on Bing, which later on can be used to redeem things like Amazon gift cards, Starbucks gift cards or even donate to various charitable organizations. My friends often joke that Bing needs to use ‘tricks’ like ‘rewards’ to lure users to use their service. Its not because of their ‘poor service’ as some would claim, but because it is almost at even par with its competitor. As it is with credit card providers, I think its fair for Bing to use reward points to get more users in an era where ‘google’ is used a verb.
So, give Bing a spin and earn a Amazon gift card while you do so. You can also use my referral if you wish to : goo.gl/k0xPk
(Full Disclosure: I was summer intern (summer 2011) with Microsoft Bing. The views expressed in this post are solely mine, and none of my current or previous employers subscribe to these views)